Interview by Sasha Simon
In 2008, singer-songwriter and guitar player, Lee Weiss, began to search for other musicians who shared his passion for music and his love for performing. Two of his fellow music students at the Wright State University in Ohio, Jason Sigritz and Ryan Chatterton, as well as drummer Dan Malloy, combined with him to form Life After Liftoff. From winning the 2011 Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands and performing at that year’s Warped Tour to creating and releasing an EP with a number of music videos, Life After Liftoff has formulated a new genre of music branded as ‘alien pop punk’. My first taste of their music came from the first song in their EP – The Promise.
Just promise me truth
Don’t hurt me with lies
I let it all go so I’d find you.
As I listened to their positive lyrics, my heart seemed to elevate as if in tune with the catchy, uplifting music in the background. My finger hovered over the pause button, knowing that I had heard enough to be hooked onto the band; however I couldn’t bring myself to press it. The music ended and moved on to the next song – Memory Of You. Their music had a likeness to two bands that I thoroughly enjoyed, Boys Like Girls and Blink-182, though it was unique in its own way. I wanted to know more about their music and the band itself, and was presented with the opportunity to gain more knowledge in an interview with Lee Weiss and Dan Malloy.
GZ: How did you choose the name for your band and how did you form Life After Liftoff?
Lee: It came to me in a dream. I’ve always kept a notepad next to my bed for lyrics, and after my old band broke up, I came up with this name, “Life After Liftoff.” I spent the next day figuring out what it was going to be and what it was going to represent.
Dan: Lee is the man behind the band name, so I will let him tell you that story. In terms of band formation, Ryan auditioned for Lee early on and Ryan and I have played in bands for a long time. He called me up to come play. After a few lineup changes and shifts, we needed a bass player, and Lee and I both knew of Jason.
GZ: When did you decide to pursue a music career?
Lee: I have been playing and touring since I was fifteen years old. After seeing Green Day and Blink-182 play on the pop disaster tour, I knew that I wanted to always play music.
Dan: Music has been my biggest passion and a huge part of my life since I was about thirteen. I’ve been pursuing every possible opportunity to make great music since then.
GZ: Who writes the lyrics and music for your songs, or is it a collaborated effort?
Lee: I am the main lyricist but I always bounce my ideas back to the guys. Our music is very concept oriented so I always need an outside perspective to make sure I don’t get lost in my own ideas.
Dan: Lee is the man behind the lyrics and a lot of the musical ideas as well. We all play a big part in coming to the final product that we release.
GZ: From where do you draw your inspiration for your songs and music?
Lee: Real life experience is where all my song writing comes from. I believe people can relate to you as a songwriter when you talk about situations everyone has gone through or will go through.
Dan: There are so many musical and life influences that it’s hard to say. I know, like many bands, we write about love and loss, and I think our musical influences are so widespread, I can’t list them all.
GZ: What challenges has Life After Liftoff faced?
Lee: It has taken me three years to find the most incredible group of musicians and friends to work with. That to me has been the biggest challenge. But when it all came together, it was magically beautiful!
Dan: As I mentioned before, we had some lineup changed and shifting personnel early on. We’ve done a lot so far though, and we have a lot more great opportunities on the horizon.
GZ: How have you managed to overcome these challenges?
Lee: Positive Mental Attitude! Or PMA! When you believe in yourself and what you are doing, NEVER GIVE UP! That is what this band is about… if you can change your own circumstances then you can change the world!
Dan: I think we are all very driven and positive, so this is a pretty hard group to stop. Plus we have a great message that we feel a need to get out to as many people as possible.
GZ: Is there a particular person or people that have inspired your band and helped you in your journey?
Lee: My Mom, family, friends, people who are super close to me, my musical inspirations and bands that have inspired me to follow my dreams.
Dan: So many people have been a support and inspiration to us. I think the most prominent for most of us would be our families though. It’s great to see how they have all supported and encouraged us on your journey.
GZ: What does an average day in your life involve?
Lee: Wake up, turn on some music, shower, and check Facebook and Twitter. Make some phone calls to family and friends and band related business. Head to my university, go to class, come home and work on band business and/or go to rehearsal!
Dan: For me, I work a full time job, then to rehearsal or a show. And on the weekends we usually hit the road when possible and try to play as many shows.
GZ: What do you love most about performing?
Lee: The energy that comes with performing and the connection that you make with an audience; it is incredible.
Dan: Interacting with the crowd is one of my favorite parts of performing. And it’s nice that every show is unique, that way I never get too bored!
GZ: What is the hardest part of recording and performing your music?
Lee: The hardest part is staying focused in the studio. Always being around great friends while recording is just like hanging out but you have to stay focused!
Dan: I think the hardest part is getting everyone in sync and on the same page musically and mentally. Without that type of commitment, it’s hard to get very far in this industry.
GZ: What are some of your most embarrassing moments on stage or during recording?
Lee: The one thing about recording is that you realize how terrible you are at what you do (laughs). But seriously, it’s about perfection so I’m always striving for the best possible take! And on stage it has always been me falling on my face or tripping over my own two feet!
Dan: I try not to get embarrassed, though I probably should be more often. We all do a lot of silly things in the name of fun and a good show. However, it was pretty embarrassing to see the pictures of us playing at the Warped Tour when we all looked like we were going to pass out from the heat. Not exactly a smiling Kodak moment.
GZ: What is next on your agenda?
Lee: A new EP in February/March of 2012, a full length after that and tour, tour and tour!
Dan: we’ll be in the studio and traveling a lot in December to February, and the focus will be on our new EP.
GZ: What advice can you give to aspiring artists?
Lee: NEVER EVER GIVE UP! Make sure you are patient and don’t jump the gun! Be nice and respectful as possible and make sure you help everyone you can. People will be there to help you at one point too!
Dan: Don’t give up! Enjoy the good times and learn a lot from the not so good times. And always have a good sense of humor about yourself!!!